2015 was a big year in renewable energy. In August, President Obama took a historic step in tackling climate change in the United States when he announced the Clean Power Plan. Pope Francis topped headlines not only for his visit to the United States but also for speaking to Congress in November and making the case for lawmakers to address climate change. Perhaps the most notable win for renewable energy was the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris in December. For the first time ever, nations acknowledged collective responsibility for addressing the climate change issue.
With such a big end to the year, it leaves many wondering what 2016 will have in store. Here are two predictions for renewable energy in 2016:
1. Solar and wind will continue to soar
Energy forecasts predict that renewable sources will be the fastest growing sources of power from now until 2040. According to an article in Greentech Media, investments in the U.S. solar industry will increase. The article also shares the prediction that homeowners will have more options for financing solar installation. This will include national and regional banks, credit unions, specialized solar lenders and property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing programs. While leasing and solar power purchase agreements (PPA) will still be an option, these will have to reduce monthly or kilowatt-hour price to remain competitive.
2. More money, more innovation
Two funding announcements made on the heels of the Climate Change Conference in Paris are expected to boost innovation, predicts Varun Sivaram from the Council on Foreign Relations in a feature in the Atlantic. Bill Gates and 27 other investors announced their pledge to support research and development in clean energy. The United States and 20 other countries also pledged to double funding for research and innovation to $20 billion by 2020. This type of investment makes it likely that 2016 will see an emergence of breakthrough technologies.